UNCTAD’s Review of Maritime Transport 2021 stated that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could boost intra-African trade by up to 33 percent and cut the continent’s trade deficit by 51 percent.
A study by the UN Economic Commission for Africa with a time horizon of 2030 indicates that cargo transported by vessels would increase from 58 million to 132 million tons with the implementation of AfCFTA.
The continental free trade area has significant implications for maritime transport and services trade. “The AfCFTA is expected to increase demand for different modes of transport, including maritime transport, which in turn will increase investment requirements for infrastructure and equipment – ports and vessels in the case of maritime transport,” the report says.
The study says Comoros, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Somalia will experience a surge in traffic through their ports by 2030 as a result of AfCFTA.
If the necessary infrastructure projects are implemented, Africa’s maritime fleet is projected to increase by 188% for bulk and 180% for container cargoes.
The report also highlights the challenges that continue to weigh on the maritime sector, including the long port call times for vessels, significant liner shipping connectivity issues and drops in maritime volumes due to disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Africa is expected to see some recovery in output and cargo imports, but it would be relatively moderate compared to other world regions.